An eleventh hour technicality forced the Ardmore Main Street Authority Board of Trustees to approve a motion deeding the land to be used for Depot Park to the City of Ardmore.
The change of ownership was caused by a requirement of the grant the AMSA is hoping to receive through the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. If awarded the full amount, the park would get $600,000 for the project.
“An email came in yesterday afternoon letting us know the OTRD had been going through our grant application,” Chairman Todd Yeager said. “There was a question about the fact that we are a 501(c)3, and through this federal grant program you have to be a municipality in order to be eligible.” He went on to say that though the OTRD liked the project, they had determined the AMSA could not be the applicant in spite of being a trust authority of the city.
“They aren’t just throwing our application out,” Yeager said. “They think it’s a good application and that it is a project that they would like to fund provided we can fit within their guidelines.”
After a meeting with city officials and the city attorney late yesterday afternoon, it was decided the best course of action was to deed the park land tract to the city so that the city could then be the grant applicant. The city would lease the park back to the AMSA with an agreement making Main Street responsible for the park’s upkeep and maintenance.
While the move would allow the park to be eligible for the grant, Assistant City Manager Kevin Boatright pointed out that it would come with strings attached.
“We just want to make sure that everyone goes into this with their eyes open about the situation,” Boatright said. “Once the city owns it, basically anything you have done with that property will have to be approved by the city commission. You can vote as a board to make changes, but that will have to be approved by the city commission.”
AMSA General Manager Jeff DiMiceli said that the transfer would simply formalize the system that is already more or less in place.
“With everything we do, we are already going to the city,” DiMiceli said. “We let them know every step we’re taking, so this will really not be anything new.”
Before making the motion to transfer the deed, Treasurer Marty Auten summed up the entire situation.
“Adding the step of city commission approval for any major changes is all we’re really talking about,” Auten said. “I don’t see this as anything other than an issue of semantics. Things just might take us a little longer.”
After the motion was seconded, the board voted unanimously to approve the transfer. How things proceed from here will be up to the city commissioners. They will vote to approve or decline the transfer at their Sept. 4 meeting.